Express & Star

Communication boards helping dementia patients at Walsall hospital

Staff at Walsall Manor Hospital have introduced a new project to help build better communication with dementia patients.

Derrick Griffin with one of the boards

The doctors and nurses in Ward Two have introduced 'What Matters To Me' boards to help support in their care.

There are no boundaries or limitations to what can be written on the boards. Some patients choose to let staff know their favourite meals, others choose to display who the important people are in their lives.

Patients may detail their past occupations, favourite films, music or how they like to take their medication.

Sometimes, from a conversation with a patient and their relative, staff may gain clues for the What Matters To Me board for the meaning of a particular mannerism/non- verbal communication.

A spokesman for the hospital said: "This has enabled patients and staff to work through barriers of  communication that uniforms and job titles unintentionally put up.

"It has been a pleasure to hear patients, staff, relatives and visitors discuss their favourite football teams, hobbies and holidays.

"It matters that patients and relatives are much more likely to know our staff by first name and have a greater trust in us as people. It matters that the patient has the chance to let us know the most trivial of details about them that might make such a big difference in the care we are able to give.


“It has also been fantastic for people to share laughter, banter, and also for patients and relatives to share the more serious side of their emotions, to help identify what can make the patient feel distressed and what we can do to try to help with this.

“We have had overwhelmingly positive feedback from patients, families and fellow healthcare professionals and have heard from other trusts across the country that plan to do something similar. The boards have definitely brought a friendlier and brighter atmosphere to the ward.”

Patient Derrick Griffin, aged 74, said the boards really helped him to remember things. He said: "It’s nice talking to staff about things I like."

Karen Dunderdale, Walsall Healthcare’s Director of Nursing, added: “This is such a simple yet effective approach that is really creating a buzz.

"Well done to Ward 2 staff for making such a pledge that embraces our trust values of Respect, Compassion, Professionalism and Teamwork and truly puts our patients at the heart of everything we do."